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I’ve always been curious about the outdoors but never really thought about how or what I do when I’m outside, until recently when a friend asked me, “How do you do nature?”  What a great question! It’s sometimes hard to know what to do when something is new or there is a shift in perspective, so here is a quick guide that will help get you started.

Before you get started here are a few things to keep in mind…first, it does not matter where you live…city country, or in an alleyway…nature IS all around us…if we just stop and notice.  Second, don’t overthink it. Just get out before you change your mind!  Stepping outside into your backyard might be a great place to start and when ready consider going to an Ohio park. Have the courage to turn off the TV and other devices and just go outside. Begin where you feel comfortable…for me it was in my own yard and only took a few minutes, so this does not have to be time consuming unless you want it to be. 

Once outside, you might be asking yourself “What do I do now?” Here are three simple ideas and a place to start:

blue skies, looking up at pine trees
Source: Gallup, S., March 29
  1. LOOK UP. As simple as this sounds…just look up. What do you see? Are you under the trees? Or the clouds?  As you look up, your thoughts begin to slow down, and you may begin to notice things you have not seen before.
  2. LOOK DOWN. What is under your feet? Mud? Grass? Tiny flowers?  Notice how you feel in this moment. Do you feel like sitting? Did you see something you wanted to take a closer look at? It is always amazing to me to see flowers or grass growing out of tiny little cracks in rock or concrete!
  3. LISTEN.  Stop and listen. What do you hear? Birds? Wind? Cars? Is it quiet?  Our senses come alive when we take the time to be still and we notice is amazing.   
Grass with single purple flower

Going into nature might feel a little awkward, but it gets easier the more you go out. For example, I started in my backyard and now this season I have walked the same path each day with my dog. We walk under the pines near the hospital and factories (in the city). I walked that path about 100 times and then one day, suddenly, I noticed that the pine trees I was walking under were all different!! It was a moment of awe and amazement for me!  From there my mind became more curious and found myself in nature more often, craving what few tend to stop and notice.  

I hope you find your way into nature.  Remember…don’t overthink it…just go! And remember to slow down, look up, look down, listen and look all around.

References:

Gallup. S.L. (2021). Falling In Love with Nature. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/05/19/falling-in-love-with-nature/

Stanton, L. M. (2021). Get Out! Celebrate Nature on Earth Day and Every Day. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/04/19/get-out-celebrate-nature-on-earth-day-and-every-day

Written by:  Shari Gallup, MS., Assistant Professor, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Licking County, Ohio. Gallup.1@osu.edu.

Reviewed by:  Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

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